Test Cricket has held a prestigious place in the game of cricket. It is still the benchmark to judge any cricketer’s skill with bat and ball. However, there seems to be a paradigm shift with the advent of T20 format bringing in more money for all stakeholders involved in the game.
There has been a talk of Test cricket not being a desirable commodity in the game at the moment. The last decade or so has seen further erosion in the five-day cricket as there have been many one-sided contests. Currently, Sri Lanka has reached its lowest ebb joining the likes of West Indies and New Zealand of not producing great results in a five-day game. On the other hand, Pakistan has done remarkably well against all odds despite playing no games at home.
The side plays their home games in UAE which does not bring in significant numbers to the ground. ICC has done some serious efforts to make sure Test cricket maintains its importance along with shorter formats of the game.
The end to the Big Three dominance by ICC was a great decision as it would have led to serious implications for cricketing nations like New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. But the trouble does not end there; the rise of T20 cricket has given numerous benefits to all stakeholders but the downside of the story is there are only few countries i.e. India and England that bring in big crowds in case of Test matches.
South Africa’s golden era has evaporated and whenever players like Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers call it quits it will be tough for rainbow nation to maintain their usual standards that has kept at the top of the pile since 1992. South Africa might also suffer the same fate as Sri Lanka whose woes on the field are becoming visible and defeats are piling up all the time. West Indies have been reduced to rubble in the last 20 years as they failed to win consistently against top sides in Test cricket.
Test cricket will only retain its relevancy if all the top eight teams have top quality players in their ranks. Many cricket pundits and former players have questioned the pattern of playing meaningless Test fixtures and clearly stated that a formulation of Test Championship might be impetus and change five-day game to regain its glory days.
But the continuing formulation of new T20 leagues and players enjoying more freedom to choose, the custodians of the game might have to do much more to keep Test cricket in future.